Maquila Visit: Behind the Chainlink Fence
Trip Start Nov 25, 2006
103Trip End Ongoing
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Anticipating sweat-shop conditions, I noted instead the good lighting, safety equipment, the free child-care facility, free commissary, free medical mini-clinic for the workers. Although a factory environment is less-than-ideal place to spend your time, this electronics-fabrication facility wasn't too bad. We got the royal treatment by the management, who prided themselves on their ability to produce manufactured goods cheaply. [Our cameras were not permitted in the factory.]
It took careful, persistent questioning to uncover that the average laborer there earned just $6/day
The factory officials invited our group to eat in the commissary, but some members of our group could not stomach the discomfort they felt in this environment. The group decided to eat downtown instead. Today I type this entry on my new $550 laptop, considered a low-end machine here in the U.S., it would cost 25% of the annual salary of one of the people who assembled its components for me.
My critics would say, "At least that factory job is better than NO job."
I respond, "Are those our only options?"